Letters to the Editor: Southern Utah residents sound off on Dixie State name change

Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, Nov. 21, 2019 | File photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

OPINION — Following are two opinion letters sent to St. George News on the topic of the Dixie State University name change. One is against the proposal, while the other supports it.

Against name change

As a scientist, I cannot let the interpretation of the so-called results of the Cicero Group survey, the firm hired by Dixie State University, go unchallenged.

DSU sign at the end of 300 East in St. George. St. George, Utah, July 16, 2015 | Photo by Devan Chavaz, St. George News

I cannot understand how the trustees at DSU refuse to see the sham that is being perpetrated by the way the results are being presented. DSU reported that the study concluded that 39% of the general population outside Utah, 29% of the southwest Utah population and 35% of greater Utah said “that keeping the Dixie name would negatively impact the University’s reputation.”

What should have been reported is that 61%, 71% and 65% respectively of these categories did not see a problem with keeping the name Dixie. If I had used the interpretation of these lower percentage numbers in results of work I was publishing in scientific journals, they would reject my work categorically as being the wrong interpretation of the results of my study.

Something is afoul, and the 71% of the southwest Utah population being misrepresented should reject the premise of the Board of Trustees and ask for their resignation!

Submitted by BRUCE CHURCH, Hurricane.

For name change

The name “Dixie” isn’t OK anywhere – even in Southern Utah, which has to have one of the whitest populations in the country, if not in Utah. And yeah, that does matter in this conversation.

Dixie State University students walk from class to class on the DSU campus during the first day of school, Monday, Aug. 22, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Dixie State University, St. George News

In my opinion, it just goes to show how some people around here refuse to understand how you can’t choose certain aspects of history to ignore and others to celebrate. History is what it is, all of it, and that includes St. George’s history of former plantation owners who came here to settle with the Mormon pioneers.

Owning up to the culture that has been passed down locally and has carried down through the generations is never something I expect with a lot of white Mormon families, but that still doesn’t mean it’s not hard to see people I care about insist on disassociating with the realization that as you pass down a religion, you are also passing down a culture and a spirit of your forbearers.

Those slave auctions at proms here in the 1950s that you can still look up in yearbooks and newspapers, even if you insist they themselves aren’t racist, per se, are just one example of a direct reflection of attitudes persisting from those families of southern settlers and others from that day and age who embrace the then-accepted norm that if a Black or brown person isn’t around to object, then a certain institution or custom isn’t doing any harm. But I challenge you to explore the possibility that maybe it is, in the here and now, just in ways that haven’t been fully realized.

Maybe there is, actually, a very real and present risk in pretending that the name “Dixie” isn’t hurting anyone, not just Black and brown students at DSU, but also future generations of white students in their coming to understand what equality actually means.

Change the name. It means something. Not just to prominent families that have lived here a while, but also to every single person living in Washington County looking forward to this coming decade all too aware of a need for embracing inclusivity of broad sweeps of other, diverse people that also make this area their home. Not to mention the people that will, nevertheless, continue to move here as well. The name will mean something to them, too.

Let us lead the charge in our little corner of the world in battling old, backward ideas and stigmas and embrace a future that acknowledges and respects all the people who come here.

Looking at my community with hope and love,

Submitted by JOANIE CORRY, Southern Utah.

Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting.

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